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MRT-3 and LRT-2 started implementing stricter measures today against COVID-19 spread, reported in this post from MRT-3’s official Facebook page and LRT-2’s Twitter account. This is in adherence to the guidelines the Department of Transportation (DOTr) released last March 14, as a response to President Duterte’s directive to control the spread of the virus through community quarantine.
Among the measures DOTr rolled out are passenger limits and no-standing policy in trains and buses until the quarantine in the capital region expires or is lifted, as mentioned in this Manila Bulletin report.
Social Distancing Policy
Under the guidelines, passengers must be one meter apart from each other at the platform, inside the trains, and when using elevators and escalators. The security checks, meanwhile, will implement a no close contact policy, as the guards inspect passengers’ bags.
As a reminder of the social distancing policy, authorities have installed signages in ticketing counters and at the entrance, as well as stationed personnel in different premises to hold the displays.
Moreover, there are train marshals inside the coaches who likewise remind passengers about compliance with the policy. These personnel were the latest additions in MRT-3’s initiative to make operations safer. Deployed last March 1, the thirty marshals are mandated to maintain the order and security inside the trains, help passengers who need assistance, and respond to emergency situations.
With the one-meter distancing measure in place, the MRT-3 management reduces the number of riders per train car to 30 up to 33.
Moreover, people are not allowed to ride the train from the North Avenue Station turnback. Instead, they must transfer to the platform of the station southbound to catch the train.
Prior to the implementation of the one-meter social distancing policy, officials from the MRT-3 organized a simulation test or a dry run on March 12 as a way of preparation for the actual one.
Temperature Checks and Disinfection
Part of the guidelines the MRT-3 management rolled out for COVID-19 precaution is the inspection of body temperature through thermal scanners. MRT-3 Director for Operations Michael J. Capati said that all stations will have these devices. People who reach or exceed 38 degrees centigrade will not be allowed to enter the station. Since March 12, the management already started using thermal scanners in the depot facility.
To further prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the management likewise conducts regular disinfection on seats, doors, posts, and handrails of the train. Performed every time each train goes inside the turnback at the MRT-3 depot near the North Avenue Station, it takes about two to three minutes to clean the premises.
The staff from maintenance and rehabilitation provider Sumitomo-MHI-TESP conducts the train disinfection. The initiative has been in place since the end of January.
Aside from disinfection, the MRT-3 management stationed alcohol dispensers on ticket windows and entrances as well. Soaps are provided in restrooms. Authorities strongly encourage the use of these sanitation facilities. Meanwhile, the staff, from security guards to ticketing officers, are required to wear masks.
The management continues to advise the riding public to adhere to the Department of Health’s recommendations to reduce coronavirus infection risk, which includes washing of hands regularly, eating nutritious food, drinking vitamins, and consulting doctors when symptoms show.
Reliable Train System
MRT-3 authorities assure the public that they will be using all of their trains to support transportation needs. They vowed to implement regular operating hours as well despite the Covid-19 threat.
Earlier, new uninterruptible power supply units (UPS) were installed in several stations of the railway, as reported by PNA. In times of power interruption or failure, the train system will still be able to operate using this back-up power supply.
With 40-kilo-volt-ampere (kVA) each, the new UPS units have increased capacities from the old technologies that are only at 20 kVA. This supports the train’s Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) system, unlike the old ones.
Also improving the safety and security of passengers, the 40-kVA devices accommodate the upgraded signaling systems of the train.
As of last update from Rappler, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that there are a total of 140 cases of Covid-19 in the country. There were 12 fatalities recorded, so far.
On March 12, President Duterte raised the code alert Code Red Sub-Level 2 over the coronavirus threat. Placing Metro Manila under community quarantine, he ordered class suspensions and domestic travel restrictions.
The World Health Organization considers the outbreak as a pandemic.
Sources: MRT-3 Facebook page and website, Manila Bulletin, PNA, Rappler
Main photo via LRT-2’s Twitter profile